environmental politics

Exploring The Relationship Between Environmental NGO’s and Corporations

lubicon - alex janvier

Lubicon, by Alex Janvier (1988)

Can corporations contribute positively to environmental action? Do we need modern-day Robin Hood’s funneling sponsorships toward good causes—or will corporate dollars always have a corrosive effect on activism? Artist Alex Janvier and forestry activist Tzeporah Berman weigh in.

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Election Special

The federal election is in full swing and politicians are criss-crossing the country trying to win your support. But one issue that has been conspicuously absent from the campaign is the environment. This week we invite each of the parties into our studios to outline their environmental platforms. We speak to Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party; Linda Duncan, the NDP’s environment critic; and Laurie Hawn, Conservative MP for Edmonton-Centre. (The Liberals declined our offer of an interview.) Then for a broader perspective on their policies we talk to Ed Whittingham, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute. He describes what he sees as the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s platform and the key environmental issues to watch as voting day approaches.


Download this week’s show.

The Parliament Building in Ottawa. Photo by Bruce Irschick.

Smaller Parties

Terra Informa didn’t limit our interviews to the major parties. We also spoke to a number of Canada’s smaller political organizations.

Voting Resources

Strategic voting: Project Democracy, Catch 22

Vote with your heart: CBC’s Vote Compass

Vote swapping: Vote Pair, Vote Swap

Hydraulic Fracking Special

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of cracking a rock formation to enhance natural gas recovery. It has opened up huge gas reserves that would otherwise be inaccessible, but all that new energy comes at a price. The fluid that gets pumped underground includes a stew of toxic chemicals and people who live near fracking sites have complained of contaminated well water and clouds of noxious gasses settling over their properties. Today Terra Informa digs into the debate over this contentious technology.

Download this week’s show.

Flaming Tap Water

Contaminated tap water explodes into flame. Photo courtesy of Gasland.

Environmental News

In Ontario, the McGuinty Government has announced an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind power development in the province.

The Star, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Insider

Atlantis Resources Corporation has been chosen to test one of their underwater turbines in the Bay of Fundy. The device is among the world’s largest, and is able to produce a megawatt of power – enough energy for 1000 homes.

CBC ,Digby County Courier, The Chronicle Herald, Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE)

The Qubec provincial government continues to block requests for information to be made public concerning the Mercier waste lagoons, which were a site for highly toxic liquid petrochemical waste disposal in the 1960s and 70s

Montreal Gazette(1) , Montreal Gazette (2), McGill

Enbridge has offered a package worth hundreds of millions of dollars to first nations communities affected by a proposed pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation

Statoil faces 19 charges in relation to breaches of environmental regulations in 2008 and 2009. The court document, filed last week, alleges that water was diverted from lakes and rivers illegally for use in in situ bitumen extraction operations

Edmonton Journal, Reuters (1), Reuters (2)

Eco Babble: Hydraulic Fracturing aka Fracking

This week’s show is all about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  If when you hear that word, the only thing that comes to mind is Battlestar Galactica, you’re not alone.  Fortunately Andy Read and Rebecca Rooney are here to explain what it all means, with this week’s Eco Babble.

Green Screen Movie Review
This week Alex Hindle puts the documentary Gasland in the hot seat for a Green Screen Movie Review. Gasland takes a broad view of fracking and its legacy across america thus far, as recorded by young documentarian Josh Fox.  So let the review begin. Check out the trailer below.
Local Campaigns: BC Tap Water Alliance
Next up on Terra Informa is Local Campaigns, one of our reoccurring segments where we highlight under reported campaigns from communities across the country. Carrying on our theme for this week Myles Curry, talks to Will Koop of the BC tap water alliance about fracking in British Columbia.

Community Car Coops and the Real Cost of Cheap Food

Today we investigate the growing trend of community car shares. Members tell us how the systems work and why they love this increasingly popular way of getting around. Plus author and academic Michael Carolan fills us in on his new book, The Real Cost of Cheap Food, which examines the enormous environmental and social costs of the modern food industry.

Download this week’s show.

Market in Santo Tomás, Guatemala. Photo by auntjojo.

Environmental News

University of British Columbia study reveales a chronic under-reporting of fish catches from the Arctic Ocean in the period between 1950 and 2006.

Study Abstract, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, CBC

The water flea has had its genome sequenced and published in the prestigious journal Science.  This represents the first crustacean genome to have been studied.

Study Abstract, CBC, Nature, Scientific America

Greenland wants to work with Nunavut to improve Arctic environmental protection

CBC

Environment Canada Fines Nova Scotia  Electronic Scrap Exporter

Environment Canada Release, News Wire, Recycling Today

Prairie artists oppose Oil Company Enbridge’s sponsorship of arts and music festival

Pipe-up Against Endbridge Release, Montreal Gazette, Prophagandhi News

Real Cost of Cheap Food

Michael Carolan is a sociologist who’s got some interesting things to say about how our food is made. Food certainly looks cheap at the supermarket, and the average north American pays far less for food relative to incomes than people did only a generation ago. But Michael Carolyn argues that this cheapness is a product of bad agriculture policies that are pushing the costs onto the environment, onto other countries, and onto future generations. Michael Carolyn is based at Colorado State University, and later in the year his new book will start hitting the shelves. It’s called The Real Cost of Cheap Food. Next he joins Terra Informa correspondent David Kaczan to explain its arguments.

Community Car Shares

Well, what if you could have a car whenever you wanted one, but you only had to pay for it when it was in use? What if your car could become a pickup truck when you needed to make a run to the lumber yard? And then a minivan when your friends wanted a ride to the hockey game? Well… then you’re probably a member of your local car share. With more on the growing trend, here’s Steve Andersen.

List of Canadian Car Shares
Vancouver Car Co-op
Edmonton Car Share

Three Walled Tailings Pond & Climate Justice Protest at Parliment

This week on the show, our fabulous new correspondent Jeremiah Bolstad takes an in depth look at the so called “three walled tailings pond” that was making headlines last week.  Steve Andersen brings us a story that received comparatively little coverage in the mainstream media: he speaks with one of the activists who staged a protest in Canada’s parliament building.

The tailings pond at CNRL's Horizon oilsands project near Fort McKay, Alta. The uncontained western edge of the pond can be seen at the bottom of the picture. (CBC)

News Headlines

Conservative dominated senate successfully kills NDP Bill C-311

(Globe & mail)

(Toronto Star)

Pulp mill in Corner Brook, Newfoundland proposes to test the burning of tires as an alternate fuel source.

Tire derived fuel public information from Kruger Inc.

 

Public outcry has lead communities in the Peace River to begin training to sample their own air quality.

Bucket Brigade Introduction

 

Climate Justice Protest at Parliment

Last week saw a lot of commotion in the Parliament buildings. In a surprise move, Conservative senators killed the Climate Change Accountability Act on Tuesday, November 16th, without even taking the time to debate it. But the ruckus that day wasn’t limited to the Senate chambers. Just before noon, down the hall in the Rotunda, a banner was hung from the second floor while six Climate Justice activists held a sit-in below. They wanted the government to take action on climate change and said that they weren’t going to leave until they spoke to the leaders of all the parties. To get the inside story, Steve Andersen talked to Tasha Peters, one of the activists who participated.

Climate Justice Ottawa Drops Banner in Parliament “If They Won’t Take Action on Climate Justice, We Will!” (Media Co-op.ca)

Three Walled Tailings Pond Near Fort Mackay

We’re always looking for new volunteers to help with the show.  Up next we have a piece from one of our newest correspondents Jeremiah Bolstad. Last week, the CBC reported on a three walled tailings pond on the lease of Canadian Natural Resource’s Horizon operation.  Jeremiah spoke with Davis Shermenta, a representative of Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board and Marlene Orr, a resident of nearby Fort McKay about the pond in question.

Alta. oilsands pond sludge oozes into bush (CBC News)

(CBC News)

 

Climate Change Politics and Environmental Security

Terra Informa March 8:Climate Change and Environmental Security (Listen/Download)

On this week’s show, David Kaczan and special guest correspondent Stephen Smiley investigate the emerging issue of environmental security. Environmental issues are sometimes thought to be of concern only to idealistic greenies, wilderness lovers and gentle peacecnicks. But in their latest quadrennial strategic report, the hawks at the US department of defence voiced their own serious concerns – that environmental issues posed a threat to the security of nations. The potential effects of global warming on water supplies, agricultural output and access to valuable resources such as oil, risk being a cause of future conflict. On our own back door, a melting Arctic is opening up vast quantities of untapped mineral and oil wealth. Not surprisingly, military powers in the region are beefing up their fire power. Whilst no one is suggesting that war is imminent, climate change is already affecting diplomatic relations. In other parts of the world, the dangers are real.

Dr. Robert Huebert (Professor of Political Science and Associate Director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.)

Greenpeace International recently appointed long-time environmental activist Tzeporah Berman to lead their Climate and Energy campaign (oilsandstruth.org article). Berman is known in BC for her work during the Clayoquat Sound protests of the early 90s, she co-founded ForestEthics and currently heads PowerUp Canada. She has worked with companies such as Home Depot, Dell, and Staples to improve their environmental records and has won numerous accolades for her work over the past 20 years. But not everyone who looks through her resume has such a glowing opinion of it. In fact, there are members of the environmental movement who are so concerned about her new position within Greenpeace that they’ve launched a campaign against her. Today Steve speaks to Macdonald Stainsby, one of the authors of the newly created website SaveGreenpeace.org.

Greenpeace Greenwash: Greenpeace International hires torchbearer Tzeporah Berman as chief climate campaigner (Vancouver Media Co-op)

Terra Informa March 8:Climate Change and Environmental Security (Listen/Download)

Linda Duncan interview and a look at Edmonton recycling

Terra Informa February 21, 2010 (Download/Listen)

This week David Kaczan speaks with Linda Duncan about Canada’s environmental movement and the role of students and Steve Anderson goes recycle-splunking with Garry the Garbage Guy.  Jade Gregg hosts the show and Myles Curry brings us the News.

The Vancouver Olympics which is claimed by the organizers to be the Greenest Games Ever has been met with substantial resistance by various environmental groups on the grounds that the organizers failed to look comprehensively at the games environmental impacts. Forest & tree loss, impact on wetlands and the carbon footprint of all the construction projects in preparation for the Games are excluded from VANOC’s ‘green’ calculations while it continues to market itself as environmentally conscious because of efforts like offsetting officials air travel.

The environmental critique of the Olympics is largely focused on how the green image masks the direct impacts of the games, corporate involvement and its spin-off developments- upon the communities and livelihood of indigenous peoples. RBC, a top Olympic sponsor but also a major oil sands financier, continues to profit from the erosion of First Nations and human right in Athabasca while marketing themselves through the Olympics as environmentally friendly. The Indigenous Environmental network was quoted in saying that

“The reality is that you cannot offset or mitigate the horrific impacts on human and ecological health that are attached to the massive development that the 2010 Olympic Games represent and, even more insidious, you cannot offset or mitigate the massive destruction to human health and ecological harm that is represented by the dozens of corporate sponsors of the Olympics.”

Greenest Games Ever? Frontline Voices Confront Olympic Greenwash by Sakura Saunders (Vancouver Media Co-op)

“Greenest Games Ever” What environmental legacy will the Olympics leave for British Columbians? by Pina Belperio

The Greenest Olympics Ever Are Still Pretty Dirty By Ian Yarett (Newsweek)

Rethinking the Olympics: Discussion of the impact of the 2010 Olympics on the environment, on the indigenous, on civil liberties, and on social justice issues. (AW@L Radio)

Hope is fading for the Green president that many hoped Baraka Obama would become after he pledged $8.3 billion this week in loan guarantees needed to build the first nuclear reactors in the US in nearly three decades. The move represents a new federal commitment to the nuclear power sector. While nuclear development in itself is cause for environmental resistance this move has initiated a sea change in relations between environmentalist and Barak Obama.

The Nuclear announcement represents a full reversal on environmental strategy by the president and betrayal of the American environmental movement. President Obama campaigned heavily on Green Jobs and renewable energy. Things began to fall apart with the forcing out of Obama’s Green Jobs advisor, Van Jones, by right wing media. The failure to produce domestic climate change legislation for Copenhagen greatly influencing the failure of conference left the President distanced and out of touch with the movement. This week’s announcement in support of an obsolete, dangerous and ecologically destructive technology abandons the premise that he would lead a green power revolution.

With calls for resistance coming out from many environmental groups Obama is now facing opposition from many groups that helped him become elected.

“A Bad Day for America”: Anti-Nuclear Activist Harvey Wasserman (Democracy Now!)

Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has quit after four years, and his departure is raising concerns about the worldwide effort to rein in global warming. Yvo De Boer is making the move because he believes that

“The time is ripe for me to take on a new challenge, working on climate and sustainability with the private sector and academia.”

However, De Boer’s departure with no apparent replacement increases the uncertainty about the state of the framework convention on climate change going into to the next major round of talks in Mexico. With the failure in Copenhagen, the stalled domestic legislation in the US and the East Anglia controversy creating a period of grave uncertainty, it is a profound political and institutional shock for someone with so much experience to leave the system at a time when it needs to be stabilized.

Climate Chief Calls it Quits (Living On Earth 02/19/2010)

After Yvo de Boer, what are we looking for in our new climate change chief? (Guardian UK)

A Paper published this week in Environmental Research Letters, reports that the biological and cultural diversity of the Peruvian Amazon is under increasing threats form hydrocarbon developments. Rapid proliferation of oil and gas exploration zones now threatens the region’s biodiversity, indigenous peoples, and wilderness areas.

Researchers found that more of the Peruvian Amazon has recently been leased to oil and gas companies than at any other time on record. There are now hydrocarbon concessions covering over 41% of the Peruvian Amazon, up from just 7% in 2003 with the total amount of area leased to oil and gas companies on track to reach around 70% of the region. Nearly one-fifth of the protected areas and over half of all titled indigenous lands in the Peruvian Amazon are now covered by hydrocarbon concessions. And over 60% of the area proposed as reserves for indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation are covered by oil concessions.

As a solution to this disturbing trend the authors highlight Ecuador’s Yasuni-ITT Initiative, which seeks international contributions in exchange for leaving the massive oil fields untapped beneath a mega diverse Amazonian national park as means of ensuring reduction in Co2 emissions.

Second Hydrocarbon Boom Threatens the Peruvian Amazon (Science Daily)

“Keep the Oil in the Soil”: Ecuador Seeks Money to Keep Untapped Oil Resources Underground (Democracy Now!)

This week Terra Informa brings you a discussion with NDP Environment Critic, Linda Duncan. Linda Duncan is a lawyer by trade, and a fierce advocate of Canadian environmental issues. She has worked as Environment Canada’s Chief of Enforcement, founded her own environmental law center in Edmonton, and was a senior adviser to the Indonesian, Bangladeshi and Jamaican governments on environmental protection. Today she is a member of the Canadian Parliament. David Kaczan spoke to Linda Duncan late last month, about her time in politics, and the role of students in today’s environmental movement.

This week our waste and recycling expert, Garry the Garage Guy, is back! Today he and Steve have ventured out into the cold of Edmonton’s winter for a recycling reconnaissance mission. That’s a fancy way of saying… that they’re digging through people’s garbage. Well, more accurately, they’ll be rummaging through a recycling dumpster from a downtown apartment building. Their goal: to see just what ends up in the city’s recycling stream.

Terra Informa February 21, 2010 (Download/Listen)